MIAMI, April 1, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)
Roger Federer’s 6-1, 6-4 win over John Isner to claim his 101st career title, and his fourth trophy at the Miami Open presented by Itaú, had shades of similarities as it had its share of variances with his past title wins.
For one thing, Federer became the inaugural winner of a tournament held at a new venue – not unlike the way he won the first and only title held on blue clay at the Madrid Open – quickly adapting to the change even as others fell along the way, like 10 pins. For another, despite completing a quartet of wins in Miami, this was the first time that he had taken home the title solo, without having won in Indian Wells before.
“I’m so happy that I was able to produce a performance like this in a final, because this is what you train for and play for, that constantly your level keeps going up as the tournament progresses,” Federer said. “This was my best. I’m very excited.”
Amid all these, Federer also showed how it was par for the course for him to be the guy to end the run of newer champions each week, becoming the first player this year to win two titles. And just like that, he leap-frogged all others, including Novak Djokovic, to lead the ATP Race to London for March. No wonder, Isner pointedly noted in his post-match address on the court, “Roger, we’re so lucky to have you and we want you to keep playing and literally never retire.”
For Federer, beyond winning titles, Miami also holds a special reference vis-à-vis his career. While he had joked with his daughters about his age gap with Denis Shapovalov, speaking on-court during the presentation ceremony, he recollected, how it began with a wild card back in 1999. “I got a wild card back here in 1999 … Miami is the first tournament I travelled to as a junior so it means a lot,” said Federer, before swiftly congratulating his opponent for putting up with a tough fight.
— Miami Open (@MiamiOpen) 31. März 2019
As hobbled as Isner was with an injury to his foot during the second set, the 6-foot-10-inch American gave it his all even while mouthing to his camp at one point that he could not move. And while the match did not end on his terms, Isner’s sportsmanship was well-acknowledged even by Federer, who said, “John is a great player and a great person and I’m so sorry for your foot [injury]. All the very best, John.”
Apart from the match itself, sportsmanship was the strongest thread binding both competitors.
· Sunday’s attendance was 17,373 setting a men’s final attendance record (old record was 14,625 in 2011)
· Overall attendance was 388,734 setting a tournament record (old record was 326,131 in 2012)
· The tournament set 15 session attendance records over the last two weeks
· Session 9 attendance of 32,831 set an all-time session attendance record (old record was 18,910 in 2007)